“I’m attracted to the extreme light and the extreme dark. I’m interested in the human condition and what makes people tick. I’m interested in the things people try to hide.”
— Johnny Depp
One of my favorite passtimes is watching actor interviews in which they discuss their roles and how they approach them. This puzzled me for a long time, as I wouldn’t call myself a celebrity chaser by any means. But now I think I finally have my fascination figured out:
Acting is just another layer of storytelling. A writer’s job is to cook up a story and figure out how to make it work; an actor’s job is to take a written character and translate them for a visual medium, bringing out motivations and nuances of personality. That’s why I find them so interesting. As our jobs are really two different aspects of the same profession, I find so much of how they approach their work to be relatable and inspiring.
Johnny Depp is a people watcher. He says that when he reads a script, he gets visual flashes of people he has known, or things he has encountered, and he develops the character out of those flashes. Many of my characters come through seeing flashes of expression, or hearing words come out of their mouths which are odd remixes of things and people I have encountered somewhere in my life.
Tom Hiddleston says he approaches each job like a well, circling around it and tossing things in which help him to get a handle on a character, before jumping in and papering the walls with the things he threw down. I tend to circle my stories in much the same way; throwing research, atmosphere, motivation, dialogue, and even art and music into the mix, then jumping down into the middle of it all and pulling out the useful bits to paper the walls of the world I create.
Do you have any so-called “frivolous passtimes” that actually inspire you? I’d love to hear about them! Feel free to comment, or write your own blog post about it and tag me somewhere.